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Learning from 1 Peter: Intro. to Suffering

August 22, 2008

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As already mentioned, I’m currently spending my devotional time studying 1 Peter, which deals primarily with suffering. It’s been an interesting week to start studying this letter because Dr. Ashford preached one of the best messages I’ve heard in the SEBTS chapel on suffering and faith (from Heb. 11:30-40) this week.

When you read 1 Peter in detail you realize how ridiculous the “health and wealth gospel” is. I’ve come to realize that one of the greatest travesties of the American church is promoting the message that God’s greatest priority is to see us as happy as possible here and now, with “happiness” being defined by us. This is simply American consumerism baptized in religious talk. Does God want me to have the car of my dreams? Does God want me to never undergo any “hardship”? Does God want me to always have enough money that I can purchase what I want? I can’t really answer those questions. I know people blessed by God that have a lot and I know people blessed by God that have almost nothing (materially speaking).

What I can say from 1 Peter is that we are so mistaken if we determine whether or not we have favor from God by the amount of “stuff” we have. How little does that make of God that He serves as nothing more than the servant-boy who is used to fetch more “stuff” for us? When we look at the Bible, we see that Peter challenges his Christ-following readers to look at their own suffering in light of the fact that they have an assured salvation, which should cause rejoicing in all circumstances. God is bigger (thank goodness) than making His priority serving our every need. He’s working for a much greater purpose: His own.

So here’s the real issue: the question is not whether or not you are blessed because you have all that you want from God and you’re never in any sort of want or need. The question is this: do you know Him? If you don’t, then the first priority is finding salvation in Christ. Without this, it won’t make any difference how much you accumulate and the amount of money you make. The reality is that you and I are part of the ultimate statistic: 100% of people die, and ultimately all those comforts will be nothing more than temporary comforts.

If you do know Him, and when suffering comes (1 Pet. 3:16), do you know that it’s nothing when compared to the assured salvation that we have through Christ that is “an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice…” (1 Pet. 1:4-5). If we keep the big picture in mind, then no matter what this world throws at us we will continue to rejoice in the fact that nothing can seperate us from the love of Christ (Rom. 8:35-39). Amen.

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